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Annual Fund

2021 Annual Fund

Your contribution to the Annual Fund supports the following programs:


As emerging leaders in the optics and photonics community, Ambassadors share their experiences and perspectives with students and early career professionals. They provide career advice, technical knowledge and mentorship by serving as a traveling lecturer, supporting professional development events at local meetings and engaging with their communities.

In 2021, 10 new ambassadors will join the 49 others from the 2016-2020 classes. Like the 2020 ambassadors, they will leverage virtual engagement in the absense of in-person events.


The Innovation School

The Innovation School inspires the next generation of entrepreneurs and business professionals by providing attendees the opportunity to assess their interest in entrepreneurial ventures. The School is guided by Eric Koester, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Georgetown University.  Attendees participate in a fast-paced, immersive experience focused on product ideation, market research and problem-solution customer fit.  Content is supplemented by guest lectures from optics and photonics corporate leaders. 

The 2021 Innovation School will be held as a virtual event on 5-9 April.


Training Science-Informed Public Policy Advocates

The foundation will offer 20+ early-career members a unique public policy learning experience focused on demonstrating the value of science-government interaction. These members will receive expert training on communicating with legislators and the general public about science in policy and society. They will then join other OSA members to meet with U.S. senators and representatives.

The 2021 program will be scheduled for the third or fourth quarter.


Student Chapter Special Program Grants

Student Chapters will receive grants from the foundation in support of professional development, education outreach and diversity and inclusion.


WISTEE Symposium

The foundation has partnered with Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Entrepreneurship (WISTEE) in 2015 -2019 providing financial support for their annual meeting focused on advancing the careers of women in optics and photonics. In 2016-2019, WiSTEE co-located their symposium with Frontiers in Optics (FiO), OSA’s Annual Meeting attracting between 80-110 professionals interested in promoting gender equity in our field. The program features speakers and attendees from academia, industry and the public sector.

In 2021, we will resume the partnership with WiSTEE and the co-location of the symposium with FiO. 


Optics Suitcases

The Optics Suitcase is an innovative, interactive presentation package designed to introduce middle school students to the dynamic and exciting range of concepts within the study of light. Student and early-career professional members use the kit as part of their community outreach efforts. Chapters will be able to apply for suitcases in 2021.


Diversity and Inclusion Recognition

The Diversity & Inclusion Advocacy Recognition serves to acknowledge the outstanding dedication and accomplishments of members, companies or organizations that demonstrate efforts to foster greater appreciation, advancement and celebration of diversity and inclusivity.


International OSA Network of Students (IONS)

Launched in 2007, IONS encourages student chapters to organize and manage regional meetings featuring technical and professional development content as well as networking with peers and luminaries. The experience and skills gained from the program include program development, speaker recruitment, attendee marketing, developing and managing an events budget, overall logistics planning as well as sponsor engagement and fundraising.


Chapter Zoom Accounts

With a lack of in-person events, we are offering professional Zoom accounts to Student Chapters to alleviate challenges with time and attendee limitations and to enable access to virtual guest lecturers and other programs.


Additional Opportunities

Additional funding to be allocated throughout the year for unplanned opportunities.


Cedric Lam, Google, USA

Cedric Lam, Google, USA

"I support the programs that cultivate the future leaders in our community by donating to the annul fund. These programs bring people together who are just entering the optics field from all over the world. The foundation provides the tools to prepare students and early career professionals with leadership and business skills that match their technical expertise."



Ursula Gibson, NTNU, Norway

Ursula Gibson, NTNU, Norway

"I give to the foundation in celebration of the enthusiasm of the society’s student members and chapters. Annual fund programs help students connect with mentors and each other around the globe—especially through the IONS conferences."



Elisa Hurwitz, Currently LLC, USA


Elisa Hurwitz, Currently LLC, USA

"I loved participating in the Innovation School, which is supported by its annual fund. In 2019, I was a participant and used the skills I learned there to advance my career. Then, in 2020, I had the privilege of helping others by returning as a mentor to work with an incredibly diverse and talented group of students and young professionals. I have started to donate to the foundation myself, so we can continue and grow these programs and empower the next generation to expand their skills and innovate."



Jim Kafka, MKS Instruments / Spectra-Physics

Jim Kafka, MKS Instruments / Spectra Physics

"Training the next generation of students has always been important to me, but the challenge has become personal with my son Daniel entering 10th grade. I was pleased to be able to teach a class to 100 students at the Siegman School this past summer. In addition to my time, I donate to the foundation every year to support their critical work connecting students to the world of engineering and research."



Jack Bufton, Global Science & Technology, USA

Jack Bufton, Global Science & Technology, USA

"My entire professional life has been enabled by membership, publications, meetings, and committees.  No monetary donation can pay back for all that I received, but I donate to the foundation so that others may be inspired and granted opportunity to join this outstanding international science community and find their life's work and encouragement among those driven by community and scientific truth."